Josh McClane of Arkansas has an important message for every parent in the U.S., especially those living in the South: whatever you do, don't let your children leave their toys outside. McClane and his 3-year-old son, Judson, learned that the hard way.
According to KTTN and KATV, Josh was outside playing with his children, Judson and Jasmine, on May 5, 2016. They were in the family's back yard and Josh wasn't too far from Judson when he heard the child scream. He rushed to the boy's side, expecting him to complain of a minor pain.
"I heard him yelp real loud. I figured it was an ant or maybe a wasp," McClane told KATV.
However, it turned out to be something far more dangerous: a deadly bite from a cottonmouth snake hiding beneath the boy's Tonka toy truck.
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Judson's leg became swollen very quickly, and the boy began to show symptoms of the venom. Josh immediately rushed Judson to his local doctors, after which he was sent to the Children's Hospital in Little Rock. Doctors there identified the bite quickly and administered treatment.
Fortunately, 16 vials of antivenom later, Judson was able to make a complete recovery. But just because McClane's son is safe doesn't mean other children are. There will always be a threat as long as parents let their children leave toys outside.
KATV spoke to Lamor Williams of the Little Rock Zoo about how to identify cottonmouth snakes and prevent them from turning up in yards. Lamor told KATV that cottonmouth snakes, also known as water moccasins, prefer warm environments and cautioned people to be on the lookout for the possibly aggressive animals.
"If you are outside and you have things in your yard, it's a good idea to be careful when you turn things over," Williams told KATV.
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Though aggressive in nature, a water moccasin won't attack unless provoked. "This one was likely resting and was likely enjoying a warm space under his toy," said Williams.
Both KATV and KTTN have helpful suggestions for reducing the risk of encountering a poisonous snake.
KATV suggests keeping the yard rodent-free, thus making the yard less enticing to snakes seeking an environment with plenty of food. KTTN suggests getting rid of potential places for snakes to hide; in addition to lurking under toys, snakes might also hide in areas of tall grass or piles of logs and brush.
KTTN also suggests being especially vigilant during the springtime, as that is mating season for snakes.
Josh McClane is taking all these suggestions to heart after the scare with Judson.
"I'm going to start picking up every evening and I'll go out and scout before we all come out," Josh told KATV after his son had recovered.